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Alchemy

Chapter Text

Alchemy

by ToyTowns

Doctor Eggman wandered through the mysterious cave he discovered by the rocky Arid Sands Zone with his 'trusty' robots, Orbot and Cubot by his side. Each held a bright flashlight that cut through the pitch black like a sword, carving out brief glimpses of the surroundings.

The robots were color-coded, red for Orbot and yellow for Cubot. Like their names suggested, they could be compacted into a sphere and a cube which made it easier for Eggman to use his lackeys in emergent but tight situations. The robots were short and thin, moving by hovering inches off the ground. They did not have legs but had skinny arms with rubbery hands.

The mouth of the cave was a gaping hole in the ground with an unnaturally smooth ramp that descended forward like the entrance to an underground parking lot. At first the trio was hesitant to go forward, worried they'd be run over by some kind of vehicle until they realized the cave itself was too narrow for even their hovercraft. Against their better judgment, they continued on foot without bringing supplies.

A peculiar wailing noise met Eggman's ears from far off ahead. It was a little sour and off-key, like someone trying to sing with a sore, phlegmy throat.

“Do you hear that?” He asked his robots.

“Hm... no. We’re not picking up anything.” Orbot said, looking around. "This place sure is creepy..."

"I don't understand! How are you two not hearing this sound?" Eggman questioned his robot lackeys. "It's so loud it’s giving me a headache."

He rolled up the sleeves of his red and gold jacket before unzipping it.

He thought that perhaps it might have also been a bad idea to wear tight black pants in a desert. In his defense, he never expected to leave the luxury of his air conditioned vehicle and assumed that because it was winter in his native island home it would be just as bearable in the same hemisphere. As it turns out winter in the arid desert typically means occasional rain if you're lucky.

"I promise you we aren't hearing anything." Orbot piped up.

"Maybe it's at a frequency you can't hear. However I designed you so that you should be able to hear things that even I can't." Eggman paused to catch his shaky breath while Orbot and Cubot waited. He was an older, fat man who really needed to take better care of himself. It felt like they were traveling for miles and he was growing tired of the feeling of having a rock in his throat.

“Had I known this was going to be such a difficult traipse I would have brought something motorized.” He complained to himself.

“Don’t die on us, boss.” Cubot chirped. "We can't carry your corpse out of here by ourselves!"

The cave itself was only a few dozen meters deep underground but the air was thick and humid- completely different from the surface.

There was no evidence of any living creatures ever being in the cavern path. There was no sign of any activity at all. No litter, no graffiti or even gum wrappers accidentally blown in by wind. Not even sand had leaked into the cave from the surface and certainly no fresh air did, either.

With a heavy sigh he continued on.

It was a winding, slight decline and he knew getting back up was going to be the worst of it. While it was about as wide as the average two-lane city street, the ceiling was low and Eggman had to bend forward at some points so he wouldn't scrape his bald head.

The walls and ceiling were rough but the floor appeared to be carved smooth with surgical precision. The beading precipitation made the ramp no different from a slide after the rain. Nothing marred the spotless floor.

Out of the blue, for no reason at all other than on a whim, did Eggman decide to come out to this distant location as opposed to searching more locally. He hoped to scout out an area that would provide adequate space for solar energy farming and possibly a place to safely store hazardous materials far from the reach of prying government eyes.

What was supposed to be a quiet Sunday became an adventure when his various sensors picked up an unknown energy signature below them only moments after arrival in the southeastern section of Shamar. His computers couldn't identify what the source was but Eggman guessed that it wasn't a Chaos Emerald.

"The moisture doesn't even make sense down here. There are no bodies of water according to the sensors. Where can it be coming from?" He spoke rhetorically.

“Maybe it’s all your sweat, boss.” Orbot hummed.

Eggman lifted his hand as if to strike his rude robot across the face.

"What if it's not actually a sound?" Cubot asked excitedly.

"Huh?" Eggman raised an eyebrow and lowered his hand.

"Yeah! Like, what if it's actually a psychic attack or something?" Cubot sounded excited at his idea but Orbot did not share this enthusiasm and simply shook his head.

"Listen, Cubot- the day you are right about anything is the day I wear my footie pajamas in public. This wailing is giving me a headache. Maybe we should come back with more equipment. Maybe some kind of drill. Henchmen that don't suck..."

At this point the wailing quieted down to a more bearable tone and almost started taking on a discernible voice. It sounded like whispers punctuated with cries and Eggman could almost make out the words.

"You seriously do not hear that? It sounds like a female voice-" He straightened up and cupped his hand around his ear.

Orbot and Cubot simply shook their heads and looked at each other. Maybe their boss finally cracked?



Help

I'm

Sh... release…

please...

Open it

trapped

Save

Moon.. and..



"Okay, now I'm starting to pick something up. It's coming up like interference. Like crackling, but I still don't hear any voices." Orbot looked around with the beam of the flashlight nearly blinding Doctor Eggman when it swung to his face.

"I hear it, too!" Cubot straightened up with a start and pointed down the hall. "It's coming from that direction!"

"The path only goes in that one direction!" Orbot scolded his square friend.

"Move it!" Eggman shouted, shoving the two robots aside and charging ahead. A green light faintly glowed like a dying candle down the path. "I see a light, do you see the light?" Eggman asked his two lackeys who lagged behind him.



Don't...

help me... help

open …

..reliquary .. witch

H-help…



He broke into a sprint. The floor seemed to give way when Doctor Eggman slipped and tumbled forward for what felt like forever. He tried to grip the wall to stop himself from falling and sliced his gloved palm open on a sharp stone. The searing pain did nothing to dull the sensation of blood pouring from the wound. When he came to a stop he found himself lying on his back in a room that was wide open and brightly lit by what looked like a large glassy object embedded halfway into the wall on the far end. The ceiling was high and looked like it was carved in the same manner as the path floor. He sat up and looked at his palm and winced.

Eggman balled his hand into a fist to stop the bleeding and stood up with a pained groan. He was dizzy and nauseous after his tumble. His head throbbed with the intensity of a migraine and he wondered if he had a concussion.

"Orbot! Cubot!" He called out but received no reply. He looked around the room and realized there was no door. He looked up but also saw no opening from which he could've fell. He was trapped.

How do you get out of a room with no exits? The same way you got in! The old schoolhouse riddle came to mind. But how the hell did he get in?

He turned to his communicator gauntlet and saw the screen was shattered and useless.

"Damn it." His heart pounded with anxiety. "I'm going to die of starvation before my idiot robots find me." He fruitlessly pounded on the screen with his fingertips hoping to turn it back on.

Help…

The voice spoke again. Doctor Eggman stared at the glowing object at the other end of the room. He could vaguely make out the shape of a human in it.

He tentatively walked forward as if beckoned by some invisible hand. The shape came into focus: it was a woman.

Now he was only a few feet away from a giant crystal. The woman suspended within was a tall, brown-skinned adult in her early thirties. Her hair was long and snow white, reaching her knees in length. Her sharp cheeks were softened by gray freckles. Her eyes were closed and her face was in a resting expression as if she was deeply asleep.

Her skinny arms limply hung at her side, leather-bound tome clutched in hand. He could see she was unshaven on her underarms and legs; she was clearly from a time before such hygienic conventions.

Her clothes were sparse and ratty: a simple brown leather cloth across her chest and a ripped, stained fabric skirt that was tied in a crude knot at her hip. She was barefoot and wore a bronze circlet on her head and a round opal-like cabochon embedded at the top of her sternum.

I won't hurt you…

"Are you speaking to me?" He could feel his heart pound.

Yes…

He noted that the figure was not breathing.

"Did you trap me here?" He asked accusingly.

You are trapped?

"Yes, I don't see a way out."

I'm sorry…

"Who are you? What are you?"

Touch the reliquary…

"What is a reliquary?" His eyes narrowed.

I am in the reliquary. I am not the reliquary.

Eggman paused again. He didn't want to release some kind of world-ending thing for a second time without a plan to control it.

Touch the reliquary... The voice repeated with a slight firmness.

The figure's eyes opened slowly revealing wide violet irises devoid of pupils.

The woman moved very little and seemed to still be half-asleep in her movements. She looked at Eggman with sleepy curiosity and lifted her hand to the inside of the crystal, pressing it against the surface.

He didn't move.

Please touch the reliquary… The voice spoke from still lips.

"What is this?" He felt the urge to break the walls of the object holding her in but resisted it.

Her eyes drifted to her hand and then back to his as if to direct him to press the crystal.

He hesitantly lifted his unhurt hand and pressed it to the crystal wall, lining it up with hers. The reliquary’s walls vanished in an instant, melting away like cotton candy in water.

The strange woman stepped forward unsteadily and looked over Eggman. She barely reached past his shoulders in height. Light continued to pour from behind her but changed to a white glow.

You've freed me. Thank you.

Her mouth still did not move. Eggman stepped back, unsure of what to think other than cursing himself because Cubot was right. He felt something tighten in his chest and understood it as something tightening between them.

"Sure.” He said curtly. “How do we get out of here?" He looked around nervously. "And where are Orbot and Cubot?"

Orbot? Cubot?

"My two robots I came here with." The light began to fade and Eggman's panic only grew when he saw that her eyes glowed. This is not a human.

What is a robot?

"Never mind. Just get me out of here, please."

I have little energy, but I will try. Where do you want to go?

She stepped forward and offered her hand for him to take. He hesitated.

The light was dim now and her glowing eyes made her face look sharp and menacing.

"Take me to the surface." He said just as the light died and the only light came from those vacant purple orbs. “Please.” He grabbed her hand with his injured one and squeezed it.

It felt like he was in a vacuum. All the air was sucked out of his lungs in an instant and the world swirled around him.

And then he found he was outside the mouth of the cave with Orbot and Cubot waiting for him. The two humans were still holding hands. He inhaled the fresh air deeply and didn't mind that it was hot and burned his throat. She seemed to be unaffected by the glaring sunlight and the white-hot ground she was standing on barefoot.

"Boss! You're okay!" Cubot bounced with joy. “And you made a friend!”

"Who is this?" Orbot gestured to the new person standing beside Eggman.

"I… I don't know." The doctor looked at her. “What is your name?”

"What happened to your hand?!" Orbot cried when he saw the blood still dripping from the gash.

The woman looked to Eggman's hand which was still clasped in hers and lifted it.

"Ah! Don't..." Eggman tried to pull his hand away but she grabbed his wrist hard and pulled him forward, nearly tripping him.

She let go of her book which floated in place, wrapped a length of her hair around his wound and squeezed it. Eggman felt a cool sensation and then nothing. The injury was healed.

She let him go and he pulled his hand back. He took several steps away from her and flexed his hand. He was fully healed; even the strain in his body from falling and the craning of his neck was gone.

She took hold of that old book again and looked off into the distance.

"Thank you? How did you do that? What are you?"

"Boss, that strange energy we were tracking is gone now." Orbot piped up, seeming to not see the magic trick that was just performed.

"I think it was her; or rather the thing she was in." Eggman pulled off his ruined glove and wiped his blood-caked hand on his jacket.

That was when a rumble in the distance startled all four of them.

"Time's up!" Eggman said. He ran to his Egg Carrier with Orbot and Cubot following suit.

It was one of GUN's large all-terrain vehicles. They picked up the energy reading and made quick work to travel there to investigate it.

The woman stood and watched them.

"Lady, come on." He motioned for her to get in, immediately regretting his invitation. She obliged.

The doctor made a beeline for his island lair hoping that GUN did not see him leave. After about half an hour of oppressive silence someone took the initiative to speak.

"What happened back there?" Cubot asked, "You sort of just vanished and we hit a wall."

"The path started closing and pushed us to the front right after you slipped." Orbot, who was sitting behind Eggman, looked the woman over, "It was like being squeezed out of a tube."

The yet unnamed woman was sitting next to Eggman with her book in her lap.

"Who is the pretty lady?" Cubot sat behind her.

"Stop asking me questions you know I don’t have the answers to!" Eggman said.

She leaned back and shut her eyes.

Within hours they were at Eggman's gigantic metal lair that sat atop a semi-dormant volcano and overlooked the ocean. He couldn't wake the woman so he had to carry her in.

He laid her gently on his large gray sofa, instructed a nearby Crabmeat robot to chaperon her and ran to his bedroom on the other side of the building.

"Orbot, Cubot, we cannot tell anyone about this." He quickly threw on a clean, identical outfit.

"Are you gonna keep her? Ooh, let's name her something like Snowy! Or Blanca?" Cubot was pacing Eggman's sparse bedroom.

"She's not an animal, you idiotic bucket of bolts. I’m sure she has her own name."

"If she’s not a human or an animal then what is she?" Orbot rolled up to where Eggman was.

“Dangerous." He sat on the edge of his bed and looked at his healed hand again. "I thought we were done dealing with mages and witches and all that magical nonsense."

“Maybe consider sticking her in a cage before she wakes up.” Cubot suggested.

"Now that I think about it... a human doesn't sound like a good pet." Orbot picked up the laundry and moved it to the hamper where it belonged. “Let’s get a budgie!”

“No birds!” Cubot cried. “They poop everywhere!

“Shut up, you two! Hmm.” Eggman pondered the thought. “No. I have a feeling she will be somewhat compliant when she wakes. It’s clear she’s not from our time.” Eggman put on a spare gauntlet. “Let’s not alarm her with guns akimbo.”